Dated: 06 Jul 2002
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But they want us to pay the price
JUDGES ARE handing out vicious sentences against young Asians charged as a result of the riots in Oldham, Burnley and Bradford 12 months ago. One Asian youth was jailed for 18 months last week merely for walking around a mainly Asian area in Burnley holding a stick as a gang of white men were trying to invade it.
LABOUR AND the Tories united in the Scottish Parliament last week to vote down a proposal to give all children free school meals. The plan was put forward by socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan. He argued that it would abolish the stigma of going through a means test to get free meals.
Morris: fight for refugees BILL MORRIS, leader of the TGWU union, again attacked New Labour's policy over refugees last week. He said at the union's Irish conference:
THE BIGGEST corporate fraud in history hit the headlines last week. WorldCom, the world's largest carrier of internet traffic, admitted a £2.6 billion hole in its accounts. Even larger figures are potentially involved. The firm cooked its books to appear more profitable than it was. The revelation sent stockmarkets across the world reeling.
TWO MAJOR trade unions will cut their funding to New Labour after overwhelming votes from union conference delegates. The rail workers' RMT has 57,000 members. Delegates at its conference voted unanimously for an 80 percent cut in the money the union gives to the Labour Party. It is the biggest percentage cut in Labour affiliation payments made by any union so far.
AROUND 800 council workers are gearing up for a major battle against privatisation. They will be standing up against plans by Tory-controlled Westminster council to privatise the bulk of council services. If the council gets away with its plan every council will be encouraged to press ahead with similar privatisation plans.
PROTESTERS OPPOSED to the government's treatment of refugees lobbied a Labour Party regional policy forum in Canterbury last Saturday. The meeting was attended by around 80 invited party members, three Kent Labour MPs and transport minister John Spellar. Tom MacGowan, a spokesperson for Kent Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers (CDAS), said, "We handed out an open letter calling for opposition to racist government policies on asylum seekers.
CWU union leaders held back calls for a more combative response to attacks from Post Office management at the annual conference last week. But, because delegates were furious about management's assaults, the union leaders had to make occasional signs of militancy. Deputy general secretary John Keggie ordered the expulsion of the Royal Mail observers from the hall in response to news that some delegates were facing disciplinary charges for attending the conference.
MEMBERS OF the National Union of Teachers (NUT) at St Paul's Way School in east London face an outrageous attack from their own union leaders for standing in solidarity with other workers at the school. NUT members refused to cross Unison union picket lines set up by support staff during a recent London-wide two-day strike.
STRIKES OVER low pay by journalists on the Lincolnshire Free Press and Spalding Guardian have started to bite. Members of the journalists' NUJ union extended their action-which is now in its fifth week-after two earlier five-day strikes failed to get management talking. New talks with the Johnson Press owned group began as Socialist Worker went to press.
Labour lord steel pensions rip off STEEL WORKERS at the Caparo Steel Group in Scunthorpe, owned by Labour peer Lord Paul, are to take industrial action to defend their pensions. The company wants to replace a final salary pension scheme with a stakeholder scheme, which would leave workers' pensions dependent on the ups and downs of the stockmarket.
"IT'S TIME for ordinary men and women to stand up and be counted. We are struggling for every worker against the employers in Britain and Ireland." That is the message from Gordon McNeill, a shop steward in the TGWU union at Belfast International Airport. Gordon and 23 other security workers have been sacked for striking against poverty wages.
UP TO 600 workers at Arriva buses in Northumberland staged a 24-hour strike last Friday. The strike follows an 84 percent vote in favour of industrial action in a postal ballot.
CRAIG JOHNSON from the Arriva trains strike committee received a standing ovation when he addressed the RMT union's national conference two weeks ago. He spoke the day before the train company was brought to a halt by a one-day strike.
THE SOCIALIST Alliance is organising a national conference to discuss how to vote in any future referendum on joining the single currency. Two motions have been submitted so far. One argues for a vote against joining the single currency, and has been submitted by Will McMahon, John Rees, Alan Thornett, Weyman Bennett and Rob Hoveman.
THE RIGHT wing coup inside the PCS civil servants' union looks like it could be backfiring. Barry Reamsbottom, the outgoing general secretary, and his misnamed "Moderate" supporters attempted at the end of May to depose Mark Serwotka, the elected general secretary.
SUPPORT FOR the left wing candidate in the AEEU-Amicus union leadership election is growing as the contest enters its last week. The ballot ends on Friday of next week. Derek Simpson is the left wing challenger to Ken Jackson. His challenge has already provoked an alarmed response from New Labour.
LONDON'S airports could be hit by strike action over the busy summer holiday period. Workers at the handling agents Aviance have rejected a measly 1.5 percent pay offer and are now being balloted for action.
TWO YOUNG protesters were shot dead in the Argentinian capital, Buenos Aires, on Wednesday of last week. Dario Santillan and Maximiliano Kosteki were part of a demonstration of unemployed workers protesting at the effects of the huge economic crisis gripping the country.
THE KILLING of six Palestinian children, 700,000 Palestinians trapped in their homes, the assassination of Palestinian leaders, the rounding up of Palestinian men, the reoccupation of Palestinian land. This is what George Bush's vision for the Middle East means-Israel's freedom to do whatever the hell it wants to the Palestinians.
WHAT DID the leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) leading industrial countries do last week while they skulked behind massive police protection at Kananaskis, deep in the Canadian Rockies? The British government had been busily briefing that they would deliver the "Marshall Plan for Africa" that Tony Blair promised at the disastrous G8 summit in Genoa last year.
READER Peter Norcliffe raised an important issue in a letter to Socialist Worker last week. He questioned the paper for being too negative about all bosses. "There are", Peter wrote, "also hard working, considerate companies and organisations which strike a good balance between looking after their workers and the local environment, and can still make a profit."
SATPAL RAM has finally gained his freedom after a 16- year ordeal in jail.
A JUBILANT crowd carried five men shoulder high from London's Pentonville jail. "Arise ye workers" read the banner at the centre of the celebrations. The date was 26 July 1972, and the words on the banner were no mere slogan. The "Pentonville Five" were trade unionists -dockers -jailed five days earlier for deyfing anti-union laws. Strikes had swept the country in response. They forced the courts into a humiliating climbdown, and inflicted a crushing defeat on the Tory government of the day. The strikers defied their union leaders and Labour Party leaders, who denounced the struggle. Derek Watkins, one of the five jailed dockers, spoke to Socialist Worker as he waited for police to t
MURDER, TORTURE and lies have been the hallmarks of the US invasion of Afghanistan. Events this week have tragically underlined that reality. US warplanes bombed a village in Afghanistan on Monday killing at least 30 members of a wedding party and injuring many more.
I WORK as a welfare rights adviser in Scarborough. In recent months I have seen an increase in the amount of people being found fit for work after undergoing the government's assessments. Their benefit is immediately stopped and they are forced to be available for work.
A HOMELESS man starved to death after his benefits were stopped and he could not afford food. Martin Bowen was reduced to living in a tent within yards of the Tesco supermarket in Reading. The father of one had lived there for six years, after a broken relationship led him into a spiral of decline. Martin died within sight of all the food on sale in the store.
Thousands of people from Britain and across the world will be gathering in London over the coming week at one of the most exciting socialist events of the year.